• authored by remote viewer
  • published Sun, Nov 23, 2003

Telling the Story

Today's edition of the Toronto Star carries a fearture about a story that is both disturbing and inspiring: Disturbing because it's about a horrible massacre which took place during the Vietnam War and of its cover up by the US military and the mainstream media which, 30 years after the fact, has said nothing about it. Inspiring because it was a small, struggling (and independent) daily newspaper in the American midwest that finally broke the story after several months of the kind of investigative reporting that has become all but extinct.

This is the story from the Toronto Star.

The Toledo Blade series.

I have been thinking a lot lately about the future of journalism and the media that the could evolve if the Power Source take advantage of the resources that are now available to them through the Internet. This story shows what is possible - even in the mainstream - and that the pursuit of truth and insight is possible under even the most trying of circumstances.

  • posted by Elise Grace
  • Mon, Nov 24, 2003 11:02am

MfD is an excellent example of freedom of speech. People now have the freedom to expose issues that others would prefer were "kept in the family." Exposing union corruption is relatively new in Canada. Perhaps, we have reached a point where it is more wrong not to expose it.

MfD has helped me to understand why so many of our unions have become ineffective. More and more people, like me, are becoming less willing to accept incompetence, bad decision-making and/or corruption by our leadership. Recently, a lawyer who specializes in contractual law, told me that he is being increasingly sought out to challenge union election issues in the courts. He never intended to be in this field, however, sees it as a growing field. Our eyes and minds are beginning to widen.

The value of MfD is immeasureable. People will let you into their lives in the most amazing ways. The internet would be invaluable in aiding determined journalists in finding all possible points of view on an issue. It certainly would help to expose more of the root causes. The human-side of an issue is easily found on the internet.

  • posted by remote viewer
  • Mon, Nov 24, 2003 1:16pm

This is how we get the message out and how we can begin to change people's thinking about what is right for working people and about how much is wrong.

I really believe that one day soon a lot of the best writing about work and work-related issues will be on the Internet and the best writers will be working people themselves.

Here we can talk about what's important to us, how we see the world and what kind of world we want without the muzzles and filters that are the tools of the corporate media. Talk more you guys!

  • posted by yankeebythewater
  • Mon, Nov 24, 2003 3:55pm

As more become acquainted, more will become comfortable. Don't expect the big boys to show up here, they seem to only come and arrive in convention situations, that, I'm sure makes them feel much more secure and comfortable...

Executive Union Members - we have heard it all before...when is there going to be an executive member that will actually, honestly - state their person and their ability to stay in the realm? To state any comment on mfd?

  • posted by Elise Grace
  • Mon, Nov 24, 2003 9:26pm


Here we can talk about what's important to us, how we see the world and what kind of world we want without the muzzles and filters that are the tools of the corporate media. Talk more you guys!

I have never really thought of the media as the "corporate media." So far, our local media has not reported on alleged union corruption, however, they have offered to afford me the space - that is, if I dare to speak out. We have solid evidence of substantial irregularities that occured during our last election of officers. This is a small town, many people would be interested. It most certainly would sell papers. Why doesn't the local media want to report on this story?

  • posted by remote viewer
  • Tue, Nov 25, 2003 6:52am

There are lots of reasons why the corporate media and smaller local media outlets avoid reporting on labour issues or running stories that are critical of organized labour.

As far as the corporate media goes, I think there are a couple of major reasons:

The corporate media are run by corporate interests. Workers are not important to the people who run corporations (except as a source of cheap labour and as consumers of corporate goods and services). Beyond that they don't matter. So there's no point in telling stories about them - except stories where they are portrayed as victims (of crime, natural disasters - these are the blood and gore stories that the corporate media believe "sell" newspapers, advertising space and so on). Occasionally, stories about workers also include stories where workers are portrayed as the hapless victims of the wonderous but sometimes ruthless forces of the market. These are stories about mass layoffs, plant closures and so on. The impact of these events on the worker victims is never discussed or explored at any length - it's more to remind other workers that if they're not smart enough or amibitious enough or hard-working enough, the same fate will befall them as well.

Stories about unions are few and far between the in the corporate media. This is mainly because the corporate media bosses do not like unions and so, the less said about them the better. Coverage of union-related events is limited to large strikes and lockouts involving high profile employers (or situations where there is a lot of inconvenience to the public) and even then, the coverage is shallow and predictable and...boring. That's by design, I think, the more boring it is, the less likely people are to think about it or ask questions about it or otherwise take an interest in workers' issues.

It's not just the corporate bosses' and their views on media, however, that influence the negligible coverage given to unions in the mainstream media though. A factor that compounds the problem is that the mainstream unions don't do much to generate interest or excitement about organized labour.

The larger unions are pursing media coverage more actively than they have in the past, however, if you look at the media releases that they crank out you see the same-old-same-old tired rhetoric and boring crap. There's nothing fresh or interesting. It's stuff that puts you in mind of tired, chubby, white guys in suits running off at the mouth with a bunch of cliches and standard expressions of outrage, villification of the standard line up of bogey men and enemies of labour, yadda, yadda, oh gawd I'm falling asleep just thinking about it....

Union leaders and their "media relations strategies" are not the root cause of why the mainstream media ignoreshelping themselves that's for sure.

As far as local media coverage of labour or union related events and issues goes, the same kinds of factors might apply depending on who is running your local newspaper. Media types are media types. Like any other group who considers themselves special and important there tend to be similarities in how they see the world. Many editors, publishers, reporters and others who consider themselves "journalists" went to the same schools, bought into the existing "system" around which our society is organized, have the same values and beliefs. As in a lot of groups, the little guys often want to emulate the big guys. The publisher of your local paper may be an independent thinker who values integrity in journalism (a concept that most corporate media have long since forgotten about) and whose principles extend beyond selling ad space and making a buck or he (I call them "he" because most of them are), may be thinking that he's running a smaller version of the New York Times or the National Post. If it's the latter, then decisions about what gets published are influenced by the same factors as those that determine what gets into the Times or the Post. The only difference is that the stories are about local events rather than national or international.

There may be a few other factors influencing your local media in its decisions to cover - or not cover - labour stories.

If the people making the decisions at your local paper consider themselves sympathetic to organized labour, there is a tendency to not want to print stories that are going to cast organized labour (any union or union official) in a negative light - no matter what they've done. This is fairly common among journalists who have some connection to organized labour. It's one of the main reasons, I think, why there is so little coverage of controversial labour issues in the alternative media. People who have either been union activists or have been involved in activism of any kind have it drilled into their heads from the get-go "Do not criticize unions. If you do, you are as dirty disloyal scab-loving, corporation-supporting, union-hating sonovabitch who will be cast out of our movement (whatever it is), shunned by your friends and disrespected for the rest of your life." Interestingly enough, this is a mindset that I think also contributes to the lack of coverage of labour issues in the mainstream media. In Canada, with the prevalence of biz unions like the CEP in the media, there's a general reluctance on the part of reporters and editors to tackle issues that cast unions in an unfavourable light. (This is something that is worth exploring all on its own.)

In addition, if you are in a smaller community, the publisher and other key players at your local newspaper are most likely members of the local elite, along with those union leaders who may be up to no good and whose activities ought to be exposed. But members of elites don't like to piss on each other. It makes for awkward moments on the golf course or at local events. They're more likely to give the fellas that they've been rubbing elbows with for years, the benefit of the doubt: Hey if they're that crooked, let somebody else expose them. We'll wait til the cops nail them and then run a story.

Being small also provides lots of good cop outs and excuses: We're too small to tackle a story like that. We might get sued and then what will we do? (This is an excuse that I've heard even from bigger corporate media publications - what a lot of wimps there are out there! It's shameful.)

All of this also is exacerbated by the fact that many labour stories involve having to do considerable research, understanding complex terms and concepts and writing lots and lots of copy. The laziness of contemporary journalists is truly breathtaking - among other things.

Hope that sheds some light. Now lets expose the filth and corruption here on the Internet where laziness and wimpiness never get in our way!

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